by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I missed doing this, so it’s time to gripe a little more! Most RPGs have mini-games, that are on a sliding scale – it goes from “This is absolutely brilliant” to “WHY? WHY GOD WHY?!”, and there are so many of them to mention. There were some I’m torn on, so I’m leaving them off of today’s list. The first is Pokemon’s “Safari Zone”. Having a limited amount of steps, a handful of rocks, and some Pokeballs? Absolutely loathe it. I’m not sure if it qualifies as a mini-game or a feature, but it was so convoluted and frustrating to me, and that’s coupled with having Pokemon that can only be found there. Final Fantasy X-2, while it is a game I enjoy, most of its mini-games are absolute rubbish.
Like “Leblanc’s Massage”. That’s both awkward and awful. Leblanc’s Massage is a mini-game that will have friends and family alike asking what the hell you’re playing. It’s sort of funny because while I also love Final Fantasy X, most of its mini-games make my blood absolutely boil. I’m sure I’ll come back to some of them, because they are required to get your ultimate weapons for Tidus, Kimahri, and Lulu. To this day, I’ve never acquired the 200 lightning dodges. Maybe I’ll do it on the Switch release. Even the greatest games can have the absolute worst decisions, and that’s what we’re going to look at today (mostly).
5. Chrono Trigger – Racing/Gambling: In Chrono Trigger’s 1000 AD, you can play a ton of mini-games to gain Silver Points at the Millenial Fair. These come into play later in the game, and each mini-game has its own reward. There’s the easy (Gato), the boring and tedious (strength challenge), and then there’s Racing. You pick one of the racers you think is going to win, then they jog as slow as they humanly can for the entire race. You can run back and forth against the other racers to try and slow them down, but other than that, you can just grumble and swear as you pick the wrong racer again and again. I’d rather spend three hours bopping the strength challenge, or 30 minutes beating up Gato and listening to his song again and again. If there’s a pattern or a way to tell who is going to win next, I could not figure it out. All I know for certain is that it is a prime cause of my blood pressure rising in Middle/High School. To absolute hell with you, Racing.
4. Super Mario RPG – Yoshi Racing: Racing?! Why are all the racing mini-games bad?! Except maybe the Johnny Race in Chrono Trigger. Super Mario RPG has a few very sound mini-games, like the water races, and figuring out the melody for the tadpole composer. Those were awesome. If you can follow a beat, this one’s not so bad. I did pretty well at this, for the most part, thanks to my time in Orchestra, but if you get off beat even a little, you lose, and thus, lose your cookies. It’s not adequately explained, and for people that can’t hear the music well, or simply have no rhythm, this is not a fun experience. However, you only really have to do this once, so it’s not the absolute worst. But having to do it at all puts it ahead of Chrono Trigger. You can skip that one entirely at least.
3. Final Fantasy X-2: Sphere Break: For 101%, you absolutely have to be good at Sphere Break. Succeeding in your Sphere Break mission also nets a powerful Garment Grid, so you have two reasons to be good. Why is this one so bad? It’s Math/Multiplication the Game! I’ve never been a big fan of Math, especially when I have to do it fast and repeated. I know a lot of people who love this mini-game, because they’re great at Math, and relish in it. There is no good that comes from Sphere Break – only sadness. You have to have the right coins, use them at the right time, and get chains of the same number over and over, preferably with a high coin count, to maximize your points and assure victory. Out of both Final Fantasy X titles, this is my least favorite mini-game. That’s with Blitzball on the table.
2. Yakuza Kiwami 2: Golf Bingo: To absolute hell with Haruka and her stupid requests! This is where my anger really starts to act up. I spent something like 4,000,000 yen (at the absolute least) trying to complete Haruka’s Golf Bingo request. Golf Bingo is a mini-game in Sotenbori, where you knock golf balls at a Tic-Tac-Toe/Bingo Board. Haruka wants you to ace the board (hit a ball into all nine spots). As time goes on, the board moves a bit, increasing the challenge of the game. It’s not a requirement for completion of the game, but it is if you want to Platinum the game or complete all of Haruka’s inane requests. She’s an adorable little girl, but Golf Bingo really had me second-guessing if this small child was worth helping. This felt like a more frustrating version of the baseball game, and I hate that one too! Most of the mini-games in the Yakuza franchise are great. There are a few though, that really get the ol’ anger acting up. This is one of them.
1. Final Fantasy 9: Jump Rope: This one’s hidden at the very beginning of the game. The moment you control Vivi in the very first moments of the game, you can try Jump Rope. Two little kids ask if you want to try, and it. There are some amazing rewards hidden behind this innocent kids game, but it’s the most treacherous, vile, and horrific thing that Square-Enix has ever done in any game ever. The patterns are brutal and foolish, and in most of the more modern iterations of the game, it feels like there’s input lag, where you can hit the button on time and still not get it quite right. Nothing in any video game has been as bad as Jump Rope in Final Fantasy IX. Not Action 52, not the dumb joke mini-game in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, there’s nothing more repugnant. Just thinking about it makes me need a stiff drink. Why is Vivi the one to do this? Why not someone less clunky like, I dunno, THE MAIN CHARACTER? There are at least four amazing Tetra Master cards blocked off behind this. In later editions, you can cheat your way through it with Cheat Engine, etc, but why do it at all?
What about you? What are your least favorite mini-games? I’d love to hear about it!